Monday, April 26, 2010

The Miracle of Growth

Ever heard the expression "the miracle of birth"? Well, I'm sure that there is something miraculous there, but really, I think the real miracle is the miracle of growth!

The puppies are 10 days old today, and yesterday I took this picture of Zeva resting her head on her sister Zena's flank during their nap time. They are changing so rapidly! Part of that is pure physical growth - they have doubled in size from their birth weights, and their features are beginning to look distinctly like puppies, rather than more generically like (choose one) potatoes or rodents.

But what inspires the most awe in me is their rapid neurological and motor development. You can literally see the puppies' nervous systems developing during what is known as "activated sleep", in which they twitch, tremor, and move. It's one of the things we watch for - a pup laying perfectly still in sleep is in trouble, and should be evaluated, because it's not normal...Fortunately, all of Emmy's pups are quite active sleepers! ;)

Their eyes should open by next weekend, perhaps a few days before. Ears will not open for another full week or so. Their motor skills, however, are already increasing. While they can't yet truly walk, they are using their legs much more fully to propel themselves, boost themselves up onto and over each other, and lift their little behinds up in the air.

They are becoming more vocal as well. No barking at this age, but a real repertoire of grunts, whines, squeaks and a sound that a friend described as "tribble-like" from the tribbles on Star Trek.

And amazingly, their personalities are already starting to show - the puppy who beats everyone else to the nipple, even pushing others out of the way, the puppy who hangs back a bit and excels more at cuddling than getting his own way. It's not an accident that Zeva was resting her head on top of Zena - she's often at the top of a pile of puppies...

In between watching, holding, cleaning, petting, and generally marveling at the puppies, I'm reading The Breeders' Guide to Raising Superstar Dogs by Jerry Hope, Another Piece of the Puzzle: Puppy Development by Pat Hastings, and bits of How to Speak Dog, by Stanley Coren, who does a fabulous job talking about dog-dog communication....their first language.

And of course sitting with my feet up in a soft chair, with a sleeping puppy up against my neck, feeling my own heartbeat slow and blood pressure drop...

It's a very sweet time!
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  1. What a great picture!! Amelia and I are definitey going to have to come by and see them this weekend.


  2. I love those pups. They are beautiful!!


  3. Thank you! Tami, I'm looking forward to seeing you both this weekend - just give a call and let me know when it's convenient!

    And thank you, Nancy, I'm thrilled with them!

  4. Oh, so cute. I just can't imagine having all them little puppies to snuggle with. I have 3 bassets but never seen a litter right after their born. I heard they have short ears when born, when do their ears begin to grow? Thanks for sharing your beautiful babies. Sherri

  5. Yes, they are born with short ears - pretty much all puppies look largely alike when born except for size, regardless of breed. The ears are already, at 10 days, visibly becoming longer, although they won't be at their full Basset magnificence for about four more weeks....At six weeks, Bassets REALLY start to trip over their ears!